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Original from Harvard University
Digitized Sep 19, 2006
This book contains the history and genealogy of many families from
Bibliographic Information: Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies. Lane S. Hart.
Reprint: Publisher : Baltimore : Genealogical Pub. Co., 1969.
Description : viii, 798 p. ; 23 cm.
I. ROBERT ELDER, b. about 1679 in Scotland, emigrated from Lough Neagh, county Antrim,
Ireland, where he had previously settled, to America, about 1730, locating in Paxtang
township, then Lancaster, now Dauphin county, Pa., on a tract of land near the first ridge of
the Kittochtinny mountains, five miles north of Harrisburg. He died the 28th of July, 1746, in
Paxtang, and is buried in the old church grave-yard.
He married, in 1703, ELEANOR (?) GILLESPIE,
b. in 1684; d. October 25, 1742. They had issue:
2. i. Robert, b. 1704; m. and had issue.
3. ii. John, b. January 26, 1706; m., 1st, Mary Baker; 2d, Mary
4. iii. Thomas, b. 1708; m. Mary Patterson, dau. of William
Patterson, of Paxtang.
5. iv. David, b. 1710; m. Hannah Anderson.
v. James, b. 1712; settled in Fannett township, Cumberland
(now Franklin) county, Pa.
vi. Ann, b. 1713; m. [John] Anderson, of Octoraro. We
have no further information of this the, perchance,
only sister of Reverend John Elder.
II. ROBERT ELDER,2 (Robert,1) b. in 1704, in Scotland; m. and had issue:
i. John, b. 1730; d. December, 1756, in Hanover; probably
6. ii. Robert, b. 1732; m. Mary Taylor.
7. iii. Samuel, b. 1734; m. Mary Robinson.
iv. Isabel, b. 1736; m. Adam Breaden, concerning whom we
have no record.
v. David, b. 1738; m. and removed, late in life, to Ohio,
where he died. He had, among other chiidren, Joshua
vi. Elizabeth, b. 1740.
III. JOHN ELDER,2 (Robert,1) b. January 26, 1706, in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland; d.
July 17, 1792, in Paxtang township, Dauphin county, Pa. He received a classical education,
and graduated from the University at Edinburgh. He subsequently studied divinity, and, in
1732, was licensed to preach the gospel. Four or five years later, the son followed the footsteps
of his parents and friends, and came to America. Coming as a regularly licensed minister, he
was received by New Castle Presbytery, having brought credentials to that body, afterward to
Donegal Presbytery, on the 5th of October, 1737. Paxtang congregation having separated from
that of Derry in 1735, and Rev. Mr. Bertram adhering to the latter, left that of Paxtang vacant,
and they were unanimous in giving Rev. John Elder a call. This he accepted on the 12th of
April, 1738, and on the 22d of November following, he was ordained and installed, the Rev.
Samuel Black presiding. The early years of Mr. Elder's ministry were not those of ease; for in
the second year the Whitfield excitement took a wide spread over the Presbyterian Church. He
preached against this religious furore, or the "great revival," as it was termed, and for this he
was accused to the Presbytery of propagating "false doctrine." That body cleared him,
however, in December, 1740; "but a separation was made," says Webster, "and the conjunct
Presbyters answered the supplications sent to them the next summer, by sending Campbell and
Rowland to those who forsook him. He signed the protest. His support being reduced, he took
charge of the 'Old Side' portion of the Derry congregation." Following closely upon these
ecclesiastical troubles came the French and Indian war. Associations were formed throughout
the Province of Pennsylvania for the defense of the frontiers, and the congregations of Mr.
Elder were prompt to embody themselves. Their minister became their leader--their captain--and they were trained as scouts. He superintended the discipline of his men, and his mounted rangers became widely known as the "Paxtang Boys." During two summers, at least, every man who attended Paxtang church carried his rifle with him, and their minister took his.
Subsequently, he was advanced to the dignity
of colonel by the Provincial authorities, the date of his commission being July 11, 1763. He
had command of the block-houses and stockades from Easton to the Susquehanna. The
Governor, in tendering this appointment, expressly stated that nothing more would be expected
of him than the general oversight. "His justification," says Webster, "lies in the crisis of affairs
... Bay at York, Steel at Conecocheague, and Griffith at New Castle, with Burton and
Thompson, the church missionaries, at Carlisle, headed companies, and were actively
engaged." During the latter part of the summer of 1763, many murders were committed in
Paxtang, culminating in the destruction of the Indians on Conestoga Manor and at Lancaster.
Although the men composing the company of Paxtang men who exterminated the murderous
savages referred to belonged to his obedient and faithful rangers, it has never been proved that
the Rev. Mr. Elder had previous knowledge of the plot formed, although the Quaker
pamphleteers of the day charged him with aiding and abetting the destruction of the Indians.
When the deed was done, and the Quaker authorities were determined to proceed to extreme
lengths with the participants, and denounced the frontiersmen as "riotous and murderous Irish
Presbyterians," he took sides with the border inhabitants, and sought to condone the deed. His
letters published in connection with the history of that transaction prove him to have been a manjudicious, firm, and decided. During the controversy which ensued, he was the author of one
of the pamphlets: "Letter from a Gentleman in one of the Back Counties to a Friend in
Philadelphia." He was relieved from his command by the Governor of the Province, who
directed that Major Asher Clayton take charge of the military establishment. Peace, however,
was restored--not only in civil affairs, but in the church. The union of the synods brought the
Rev. John Elder into the same Presbytery with Messrs. John Roan, Robert Smith, and George
Duffield, they being at first in a minority, but rapidly settling the vacancies with New Side men.
By the leave of synod, the Rev. Mr. Elder joined the Second Philadelphia Presbytery May 19,
1768, and on the formation of the General Assembly, became a member of Carlisle Presbytery. At the time the British army overran New Jersey,driving before them the fragments of our discouraged, naked, and half starved troops, and without any previous arrangement, the Rev. Mr. Elder went on Sunday, as usual, to Paxtang church. The hour arrived for church-service, when, instead of a sermon, he began a short and hasty prayer to the Throne of Grave?? then called upon the patriotism of all effective men present, and exhorted them to aid in support of liberty's cause and the defense of the country. In less than thirty minutes a company of volunteers was formed. Colonel Robert Elder, the parson's eldest son, was chosen captain. They marched next day, though in winter. His son John, at sixteen years, was among the first. His son Joshua, sub-lieutenant of Lancaster county, could not quit the service he was employed in, but sent a substitute. Until his death, for a period of fifty-six years, he continued the faithful minister of the congregations over which he had been placed in the prime of his youthful vigor, passing the age not generally allotted to man--that of fourscore and six years. His death was deeply lamented far and wide. Not one of all those who had welcomed him to his early field of labor survived him. Charles Miner, the historian of Wyoming, gives this opinion of Rev. John Elder: "I am greatly struck with the evidences of learning, talent, and spirit displayed by him. He was, beyond doubt, the most extraordinary man of Eastern Pennsylvania. I hope some one may draw up a full memoir of his life, and a narrative, well digested, of his times ... He was a very extraordinary man, of mostextensive influence, full of activity and enterprise, learned, pious, and a ready writer. I take him to have been of the old Cameronian blood. Had his lot been cast in New England, he would have been a leader of the Puritans." He had, with one who well remembered the old minister, "a good and very handsome face. His features were regular--no one prominent--good complexion, with blue eyes ... He was a portly, long, straight man, over six feet in height,large frame and body, with rather heavy legs ... He did not talk broad Scotch, but spoke much as we do now, yet grammatically." His remains quietly reposeamid the scenes of his earthly labors, in the burying-ground of old Paxtang church, by the side of those who loved and revered him. Over his dust a marble slab bears the inscription dictated by his friend and neighbor, William Maclay, first United States Senator from Pennsylvania.
The Rev. Mr. Elder was twice married; m., first, in 1740, MARY BAKER, b. 1715, in county
Antrim, Ireland; d. June 12, 1749, in Paxtang; dau. of Joshua Baker, of Lancaster, Pa. They
8. i. Robert, b. Friday, June 11, 1742; m. Mary J. Thompson.
9. ii. Joshua, b. March 9, 1744-5; m., 1st, Mary McAllister; 2d,
iii. Eleanor, b. December 3, 1749; m. John Hays.
iv. Grizel, b. May 2, 1749; d. September 18, 1769.
Mr. Elder m., secondly, November 5, 1751, MARY SIMPSON,
dau. of Thomas and Sarah
Simpson, of Paxtang; b. 1732, in Paxtang; d. October 3, 1786, at 6, A. M., and had issue:
v. Sarah, b. October 19, 1752; d. February 14, 1822; m.
James Wallace. (see Robert Wallace record.)
10. vi. Ann, b. October 8, 1754; m. Andrew Stephen.
11. vii. John, b. August 3, 1757; m. Elizabeth Awl.
viii. Mary, b. January 12, 1760; m. James Wilson. (see Wilson
ix. Jane, b. May 21, 1762; d. August 6, 1763.
12. x. James, b. Friday, June 15, 1764; m. Lucinda Wallace.
13. xi. Thomas, b. January 30, 1767; m., 1st, Catharine Cox; 2d,
Elizabeth Shippen Jones.
14. xii. David, b. May 7, 1769; m. Jane Galbraith.
15. xiii. Samuel, b. February 27, 1772; m. Margaret Espy.
16. xiv. Michael, b. August 9, 1773; m. Nancy McKinney.
xv. Rebecca, b. March 1, 1775; m. James Awl. (see Awl
IV. THOMAS ELDER,2 (Robert,1) b. 1708; d. July, 1752;
m. MARY PATTERSON, dau. of
William Patterson. They had issue:
V. DAVID ELDER,2 (Robert,1) b. 1710; d. 1753; m. in 1730, HANNAH ANDERSON, of
Donegal; d. about 1811, in Westmoreland county. They had issue:
17. i. Robert, b. 1751; m. Mary Whiteside.
VI. ROBERT ELDER,3 (Robert,2 Robert,1) b. 1734, in Hanover township, then Lancaster
county, Pa.; was twice married. His first wife's name was COLE, and they had one son,
Joseph. After her death, he removed to Maryland, afterwards returning to his old home near Harris' Ferry.
About 1786, he went to Indiana county, Pa., where he died in 1790. His second
wife was MARY TAYLOR, who d. April 15, 1813. They had issue:
18. i. James, b. 1763, in Penn'a; m. Martha Robinson.
19. ii. David, b. October 16, 1764, in Maryland; m. Ann Nesbit.
20. iii. Robert, b. 1767; m. Mary Smith.
21. iv. Anne, b. 1770; m. Archibald Marshall.
VII. SAMUEL ELDER,3 (Robert,2
Robert,1) b. about 1734; removed to Maryland prior to the
Revolution, where he died; m. MARY ROBINSON, of Hanover township, Lancaster (now
Dauphin) county, Pa. They had issue:
i. Samuel, b. 1758; m. Mary (???), b. 1759; d. October 21,
1830, and had issue:
1. Joseph-Robinson, b. 1801; d. November 16, 1825.
2. Samuel, accidentally drowned, s. p.
ii. John, d. prior to 1823; m. Esther McKinley, b. 1763; d.
July 24, 1823, and had issue:
1. John, b. March 25, 1784.
2. Mary, b. March 29, 1785; d. April 10, 1857; m.
James Harwood, and had issue (surname Harwood):
James, Mary, d. s. p.; Margaret, d. s.
p., and Henry.
3. James, b. March 26, 1787, d. s. p.
4. Margaret, b. August 9, 1789; m. Henry White,
of Baltimore, and had (surname White): William,
5. John, (first,) b. September 19, 1792.
6. McKinley, b. October 21, 1791.
7. Stephen, b. April 11, 1794.
8. Samuel, b. November 9, 1795; d. March 8, 1866;
unm.; a flour merchant in Baltimore, Md.
9. Elizabeth, b. January 14, 1798.
10. James, b. July 26, 1802; d. November, 1860;
m. August 8, 1848, Deborah D. Keene, of
Nashua, N. H., and had issue, Samuel-J.,
counsellor-at-law, Boston, Mass.
11. John, (second,) b. July 30, 1804.
VIII. ROBERT ELDER,3 (John,2 Robert,1)
was b. June 11, 1742, in Paxtang; d. September
29, 1818. He was educated at the academy in Chester county, and was destined by his father for the ministry.
His inclinations, and the breaking out of the French and Indian war, when the boy enlisted with his father as a ranger
on the frontiers, determined otherwise. With his
Scotch-Irish neighbors, he entered heartily into the contest for independence, and throughout
the war of the Revolution was in the field or engaged in organizing the associators, of which he
was colonel, succeeding Colonel Burd in the command of the companies raised in Paxtang. At
the close of the conflict, he continued his occupation of farming, avoiding public office,
preferring the quiet of domestic life. Colonel Elder m. MARY J. THOMPSON, of Derry; b.
October 19, 1750; d. August 18, 1813.
IX. JOSHUA ELDER,3 (John,2 Robert,1) b. March 9, 1744-5, in Paxtang township, then
Lancaster county, Pa.; d. December 5, 1820, and is interred in Paxtang Church graveyard.
He was a farmer by occupation; served in the Provincial forces during the French and Indian war;
one of the sub-lieutenants of the county of Lancaster during the Revolution, and a justice of the
peace. Under the Constitution of 1790, he was appointed, by Governor Mifflin, one of the
associate judges of the county of Dauphin. Governor McKean, a warm personal friend,
commissioned him prothonotary January 5, 1800, which position he filled nine years; was
afterward chosen chief burgess of the borough of Harrisburg, in 1810. Joshua Elder was twice
married; m., first, September 15, 1773, by the Rev. John Elder, MARY MCALLISTER, b.
1753; d. November 21, 1782; m., secondly, on May 23, 1783, by the Rev. John Elder,
SARAH MCALLISTER, b. 1762; d. December 6, 1807. By neither marriage did Judge Elder
leave any issue, and his estate was devised to a large number of relatives.
Continued to page 176....
Gordon Lockwood's Visit to Paxton Church Cemetery, 2003 - Photos